by Chris Weatherly
As I shared in the first post of my freelancer series
, my original plan for becoming a freelancer didn't work the way I had planned. The production company I joined took a major hit a few months after I joined the team. Our biggest client froze all of their work with us so jobs became almost nonexistent for me. I knew I would have to generate more client work on my own. How do you do this?
The best place to start is with networking. I'm not just talking social media networking either. I mean you have to get out there and meet people. If you don't get in front of people that have needs you can provide a service for, then you won't get the job.
Graphic credit to EduBirdie.
I wish I could just sit at home in my office (AKA the spare bedroom) and promote myself from Facebook
or any other of the many social media sites out there and jobs would just come to me. It just doesn't happen that way. At least it hasn't for me. A strong social media presence doesn't hurt, but getting out and meeting people is more effective. In short, you have to do both.
Get Out There!
I started visiting local networking groups. Yep, those meetings where entrepreneurs from all different careers gather every other week to talk about what's going on in the community. We discuss the latest businesses coming to town, exchange contact information, and help one another out. It's not my favorite part of the job, but it has to be done.
Maybe your local meeting will be fancy with cups and saucers like this stock photo?! (Styrofoam cups are more likely!)
I also attend a monthly American Advertising Federation
meeting. Since I'm looking for commercial work, it's a great place to meet potential clients needing video work for television and the web.
TIP - have a lot of business cards on hand for swapping contact info. In fact, always keep business cards on hand! You never know who you might end up meeting.
Create Content for Potential Clients
I made a list of businesses I thought I could create video content for. And for each of these businesses I created a pitch. I've learned that if you want to create a job then you should approach the potential client with an idea.
Don't just walk in and ask if they need some video work or a television commercial. Show them you have something to offer that they may not have considered. Showcase your creativity. Plus, when you bring them an idea it shows you've taken the time to put thought into what you and they are selling. Show them you care about what they want to communicate.
Don Draper would never meet a potential client without an awesome pitch!
For example, the gym I exercise at has tremendous potential to tell personal life changing stories about how exercise and healthy living can benefit one's life. So when I'm taking group classes, I always keep my ears open for a good story.
I found a woman in her mid fifties that is in the gym every day. Her daughter and granddaughter also use the same gym. I got to talking with her and she mentioned that it was her daughter that inspired her to start exercising again. There are three generations from one family all working out at the same gym. This is a story worth telling!
Meet Local Agencies
Another strategy I use to find directing work is meeting with local marketing/advertising/PR agencies. I started with the people I know at a couple of agencies and then emailed and called others by looking up contact information on company websites. Yep, cold calling. It's not fun, but you never know what may develop from it.
Just as a side note, it’s relatively easy to come up with a marketing strategy; the hard part is actually executing it. Without execution all you have are ideas. There are about a million other things I can find to do and would rather do in a day than making cold calls or emailing people I don’t know. I’m really good at procrastination. If you need help getting motivated, find an outside source to help create pressure.
One good way to showcase your work is to enter local competitions. If you can win a few awards and your work is shown at award shows, potential clients may see your work. And winning an award or two is always impressive! High quality agencies and clients like to see awards and honors. If it can get you in the same room as these folks and get exposure, it’s a big win. High quality work draws high quality clients.
If you don’t win or can’t get your work up on a screen not all is lost. I often use competitions to push myself. I get to see what other directors are doing. My work may not be as good, but I know where I stand and can always improve.
Networking and marketing is not the most fun part of freelancing. But you will get out of it as much as you put in. I connected with a new client the other day through LinkedIn. To be honest, I never thought something like that would happen. I keep my account up to date, but really didn’t think I would find work through the most boring social media platform out there! You just never know where you’ll find your next job.
Next week I’ll discuss creating tangible visuals like reels and creating treatments.
This is the second in a 5 part series from filmmaker Chris Weatherly. Read them all!
Read Part 1 – Making the Leap here.
Read Part 3 - Reels & Treatments here.
Read Part 4 - Insurance & Taxes here.
Read Part 5 - The Pros of Freelancing here.
Stay in touch with Chris by commenting below and following him on social media.
Personal/Blog Site: chrisweatherly.com
Production Company: wavelengthfilms.com